Kiwis are ready for a change to cannabis laws - Drug Foundation

Morning Talk 24/07/2018
Photo: File.

More Kiwis are warming up to the idea of cannabis law reform, according to a new survey.

A telephone survey by the New Zealand Drug Foundation found that 35 percent of people want cannabis to be legalised, with 32 percent are in favour of decriminalisation.  

The combined number of 67 percent in favour of legalisation or decriminalisation is two percent higher than the 2017 result. Feelings were most strong around medicinal cannabis for terminal pain relief, where only 10 percent wanted the drug to remain illegal.

Thirteen percent of people wanted cannabis to stay illegal for pain relief in non-terminal illnesses.

Kiwis felt most strongly about medicinal cannabis.

Kiwis are however not in favour of commercialised cannabis or growing for friends. Sixty percent wanted selling from a store to remain illegal, while 69 percent wanted growing for friends to stay against the law.

Drug foundation executive director Ross Bell told RadioLIVE's Mark Sainsbury that the survey shows the majority of Kiwis across the board want reform, regardless of political affiliation. 

What we're doing isn't working.

"Importantly, the number are consistently high [for a law change], regardless of where someone sits on the political spectrum" he said.

Mr Bell says the time has come to treat marijuana as a health issue, not a criminal one.

“Regardless of what people think about cannabis law, what we’re doing isn’t working,” he said.

Many young people are still accessing cannabis and the country continues to criminalise those involved with the drug, explained Mr Bell. “So we need to try something different,” he suggested.    

“Just saying ‘this is illegal, don’t do it’ is not working for us, and those harms that people are concerned about - which I share - exist right now under our prohibition approach.”

The Green Party's confidence and supply agreement promises a referendum on cannabis use before or during the 2020 general election.

The Government has also introduced a medicinal cannabis Bill, which would make it legal for patients with a terminal illness to use medicinal cannabis.

A separate Bill from the Green Party that would have allowed terminally ill and debilitated people to grow their own cannabis failed at its first reading.

Listen to the full interview with Ross Bell above.

Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury, 9am - 12pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.

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